HIS / HER TREE

his tree her tree

Ever since I’ve known my husband he has collected Hallmark Christmas decorations – not just any Hallmark Christmas decorations – guy Hallmark Christmas decorations.  Emmitt Smith, Ken Grifie Junior, Troy Aikman, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Captain Jack Sparrow, GI Joe in space and GI Joe solider – he’s got them all. My husband is a hoarder  –I mean collector and for years all of his collectible Hallmark Christmas decorations were neatly packed away in a bin hidden in the garage.  No one was allowed to touch them never mind decorate a tree with his prized collection. “The kids will break my decorations” he said. I don’t think he’s ever read Erma Bombeck’s list of regrets after she found out she was dying of cancer.  All of my decorations go up every year and no one seems to care if they get messed up or broken and that’s ok because I don’t care  – beautiful things are meant to be enjoyed and shared. Not sure if I can call his taste in Christmas decorations beautiful but nevertheless, his decorations are beautiful to him – beautiful enough to hide in a garage away from the kids for the last fourteen years. Every year I put up two trees -the tree  in the living room is decorated with all of the Christmas decorations that my friends and family have given me over the years (my traditional tree) and then the other tree in the family room is decorated with a blue and silver theme.  After I put up the two trees and wrapped the trees in lights and garland,  my husband walks in with his box of his precious collection and ask me “what tree he can hang his decorations on?”  After fourteen years of his decorations in a box, I’m thinking they can stay in the garage – but the Christmas Spirit in me gave him the tree in  the family room that is usually a beautiful blue and silver theme.  He happily goes over to his tree and starts to hang his Hallmark decorations while the boys and I decorate the living room tree.  After fourteen years of knowing about their father’s almighty collection, they couldn’t stand to be in the living room with me while the “sport tree” was being decorated in the other room.    Competition, let me tell you,  between the traditional family/friend tree and the sport tree – you guessed it, the sport tree won.  Both boys left me to decorate the big tree and they made their way to the family room to join their father and decorate the sport tree.  If you double click on the collage you will get a close up view of the two trees – my tree has a star on top and his tree has – yep that’s right – a football helmet!  As I always say – beauty is in the eyes of the beholder…Below Erma Bombeck’s list of regrets – I’m posting this for my husband – I have Erma’s poem posted in my office at work to remind myself everyday how precious life is..

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER – by Erma Bombeck (written after she found out she was dying from cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
 I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, ‘Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.’ There would have been more ‘I love you’s’ More ‘I’m sorry’s.’
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it .. live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!
Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. 

DIY – CREATING CHRISTMAS CARDS ON MONKEY-PIC

If you follow this blog, I’m sure you have figured out I’m not the best DIY person – I don’t really have the patience or the time for crafts.  Give me a computer and a camera and I can DIY all day long.   I’m assuming that most bloggers have heard of Monkey-Pic the free photo editor.  If you want to get some of Monkey-Pic’s cool features you have to pay – you do get a lot for free but I love using all of the features so I signed on for the year – think it cost me $30.00 for an entire year.    So here it goes – my first DIY post.  Usually every year I order photo cards from Costco – it can get expensive by the time you get cards and then send the cards in the mail.  With Monkey-Pic you can create your own cards for a fraction of the price.  I created personal Christmas cards and I decided to do 5 x 7 card – with Monkey-Pic you can choose 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10  -heck you can even create a facebook cover.  I also created Christmas cards for my work.  I work at a Catholic High School so I created a card with a Religious theme – I’m not going to share the cards I created this year because I will be sending them out in the next few days and I know some of my family reads my blog – like my brother and I don’t want to show him my cool cards before they arrive in the mail!  To start out – go to www.picmonkey.com and you will be greeted with:

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To create your Christmas card you need to create a collage first -go to create a collage and from there you can pick the layout you want – keep in mind whether your card is going to be portrait or landscape.

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Using the various buttons down the left hand side – you can add coloured frames and different patterns – I’ve created a very simple style but you can do so much more – experiment.  Once you have created the collage you want – save it to your computer.

Go back to the start menu of pic-monkey and select design.  From here you can pick your layout – 4 x 6, 5 x 7.  I f you pick 4 x 6 it is very cost-effective – you don’t need special envelopes and the pictures are anywhere from .10 – .14 cents a piece.

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Once you pick your layout – go to editor to rotate your canvas to portrait or landscape.   From here pick your canvas colour – I picked a plain colour and then use the overlay section for more design.

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From here I went to the butterfly item in the left hand menu and used my own overlay by picking the collage I saved.

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On the left editor menu – now go to NEW and select Santa Land or winterland – both have cool features to help create beautiful cards –  I chose Santa Land.  From there you can add holiday cutouts to create some different layouts for a more polished looking card.  Using the different text items you can now add your personal message… Once you create the card you want – save to your computer.  It is recommended that you save in jpg format as this is the format that will work at Costco or Walmart – go on-line to your preferred store to order your pictures and voila you will have beautiful picture cards ready the very next day.

christmas cards example

The  original card I created for work was a little nicer than the one I created below – but you get the drift  – cards for all occasions and easy on the pocket book..

religious card 1

This may be my first and last DIY post – so I hope you enjoy.  If you’ve never created your own cards, you’re missing out on some creative fun!

READING CORNER – A MUST IN EVERY HOME

I can’t think of anything I enjoy more than to sit down with a good book and get completely lost in the characters.  Once after reading a really good book, I confessed to a friend that I was mourning the characters and wondering if I would meet them again.  My friend stopped, touched my arm and in a voice full of concern said to me “but they are not real!”  My friend is also a brilliant scientist with many degrees and she’s never read a fiction book, her nose is always buried in science journals.  I said to her “you must pick up a fiction book and let yourself get taken away.”   On the home front I have books all over the house, I love the look and smell of books.  Both my husband and I read as much as we can, proving difficult sometimes when we are running here and there.  I always bring a book to my children’s hockey practice and sit in a cold rink and read for an hour.  My youngest son told me that I wasn’t a hockey mom, I was a bookworm mom- like it’s a bad thing.  My oldest son reads all the time and it’s never been a problem peaking his interest at the library. It’s a little more work to peak my youngest son’s interest – sports,  more sports and he’s not interested in sitting for any length of time to read.   However, when he discovered “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” he would sit down with the book and not move until he read it from front to back.  To accommodate family reading,  I created two reading corners in the house.  Not having a lot of money to buy fancy things I put it all together from thrift stores, Ikea, a moving sale and I even found a floor lamp in my neighbour’s garbage.  I have a little pride so I sent my son across the street to get it – nothing wrong with it and free works for me.  Both reading corners cost me $140.99  – if you count the .99 cent Pier import pillow I picked up from the Salvation Army still showing the original price tag of $44.95.  I hope these pictures inspire you to create your own corner, everyone needs their own space to sit and dive into ancient worlds, romantic worlds, detective worlds, world of vampires and werewolves or a wimpy kid’s world.

reading corner

The two brown chairs cost me $15.00 each, the little table in-between I found in my garage, the two little coffee tables were $5.00 each at Ikea.  The word “Love” is written in many different languages on the tables – can’t argue with that.  I adore the added touch of Elvis on my $5.00 table – makes it priceless.   The Chaise Lounge in the living room cost me $100.00.  I bought it from my friend’s sister who is downsizing.   I’ve always wanted a chaise lounge but did not want to fork out the money.  The real meaning of thrifting is patience.  The flowered pillow shown on the chaise lounge is a thrifted .99 cent Pier One Import pillow.    The Sweet Peas are free from my garden.  The real value of my $140.99 is shown in the last picture – my youngest son sitting in the chaise lounge reading.  He’s usually allergic to reading but he loves that corner!

lemonade out of lemons

benchI had an old bench sitting in the back yard that I bought a few years ago.  I bought it off some guy on the side of the highway at a country garage sale.  He made the benches out of salvaged wood that he took from torn down cabins.  He really did a beautiful job and I loved the bench.  I left it out in the elements too long and the bench fell apart.  Last week I decided to take it apart and paint it all yellow and put it back together.  Now if you’re thinking smart and crafty girl – think again.  I took it apart quite easily, it literally fell apart as my son and I moved it from the back yard to the front yard.  Painting it was no problem once I tore it apart, putting it back together was another story.  This is where my husband comes in, he was only too happy to take on the job( if you detect sarcasm you are absolutely correct).  My lovely husband put it all back together for me and I have it sitting under the canopy of a beautiful Red Chinese Maple tree amongst the backdrop of glistening yellow Black Eyed Susan flowers and I must say it looks stunning.  However, if you come by my house and the yellow bench under the red canopy intrigues you to sit and ponder, I guarantee you will end up on your ass as the bench got a little too weathered while exposed to the elements and most likely will come apart very easily.  My husband has more talent than he likes to let on.

SUMMER – BRING IT ON!

Finally, the last few days we’ve had deck weather.  Weather so beautiful, we can sit in our outdoor room that I created.  Love our front deck and while thrifting this past January, I found the perfect four piece furniture set to make the outside space a true paradise.  We sit out there with our morning coffee, our afternoon tea and  sip our after dinner drinks watching the boys play roller hockey well into the evening with the added touch of the glowing candle lighting from the lanterns.  Summer – I can hardly wait until the boys finish their Spring hockey so I can really have lazy weekends on the front deck.. No don’t say it, I know you’re thinking it, by the time I can laze around it will be raining – bad thought – go away.  Below is a collage of our front room – everything you see I thrifted – from the plaques on the wall – $2.50 each at Salvation Army, picture frame – 10 cents at Salvation Army.  Tray and white planter  on coffee table – $3.00 at Salvation Army.  Green couch, chairs and coffee table(beautiful wicker set) – $480.00 at Bibles for Missions, outside lanterns – $2.50 a piece on sale at winners(not thrifted but a thrifted price), unique round plant stand – $5.00 – garage sale, everything you see on the unique round plant stand – garage sale – all $1.00 – $2.00.  Picture behind the couch(looking for the right hook to hang it up)$5.00 – Value Village, Curtains( 5 panels – covers whole deck) Cheap material shower curtains(won’t rot in the rain) $9.00 per panel – used seven panels to make the curtains just under $65.00.  All in all, I spent just over $570.00 and the biggest expense was $480.00 for the outdoor furniture.  Living on the cheap and loving it.  Double click on the picture below for a better view.

DECK COLLAGE

VINTAGE BALLS!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Now if you got here thinking you would see naked old men, I’m sorry to have disappointed you.  Vintage balls as in Vintage Christmas balls.  I saw in “Life as a thrifter” an interesting idea what you could do with Vintage Christmas decorations and I was thrilled to realize that I had already come up with my own unique idea using everything I had in the house.  I really did – Life a s thrifter did not inspire me, I came up with this idea all by myself.  I have a little vintage corner as you see below:

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A few vintage items mixed in with a new modern Ikea lamp sitting on top of a vintage sewing machine.  I decided to hang a few vintage balls, my mom used on our Christmas tree when I was a child, on an un-used jewellery stand I had hanging around my room.  I think it looks pretty good  – I didn’t have to spray paint anything just hung the balls!  Mind you, I do like the silver colour “Life as a thrifter” chose for her project…mmmm.. .. Maybe next year…Enjoy….

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THE PREPARATION BEGINS…

We are Halloween people and usually we start our Halloween preparations at least a week or more before the big event.  This year we’ve been so busy it was tempting to just carve a single pumpkin and buy  candies – c’est tout!   We just can’t do it!  We even tried to put out just a few things – can’t do that either.  Wednesday is Halloween and we’re just getting everything up tonight only to be taken down in a couple of days.  In the midst of all the preparations, my oldest decides to make chocolate chip cookies for the gang that’s coming over Halloween night.  I’m thinking there will be enough candy  and chocolate bars to last us until next year!  He insisted and rather than complain about the mess –  I said go for it!   Tomorrow I’ve got one big pot of chilli to cook and a house to clean.  I can leave the dust because dust and Halloween go together.  Lots of work but look at those smiles, makes it all worth it…Wishing everyone has a safe and fun Halloween..